A UK government initiative with an aim to decrease teen pregnancies has some parents in an uproar. The program offers birth control to students as young as 13, including long-term contraceptives which require an implant and can last up to three years.
These services are offered at nine schools to date and are administered without the consent of the students’ parents. The Telegraph reports that teenage pregnancies have dropped 22 percent since the sexual health services have been offered.
The program, which is provided by National Health Services, also offers students sexually transmitted disease screening, condom distribution, and pregnancy tests. All contraceptives are administered by trained professionals and only after the student has undergone a full medical evaluation.
Of course, no teenager seeking to prevent an unwanted pregnancy can make a responsible decision without being admonished by a group like the Family Education Trust. Director of the trust, Norman Wells, said “Schemes like these inevitably lead to boys putting pressure on girls to have sex. They can now tell their girlfriends: ‘You can get the school clinic to give you an implant, so you don’t have to worry about getting pregnant.'”
Pssst! Hey, Norman. Our daughters aren’t empty-headed twits who are incapable of having thoughts that aren’t handed to them by menfolk. Furthermore, I rather like the idea of my daughter dating someone who would encourage her to seek contraceptives.
Erica Gloria Ryan of Jezebel said it best, “Maybe one day everyone will understand that in much the same way that carrying an umbrella around doesn’t cause it to rain, taking birth control does not cause anyone to have sex.”
And that’s what has really ruffled the feathers of these parents, isn’t it? The thought that their teenage daughter might be (Gasp!) sexually active. Well, guess what? Studies have shown that the majority of girls do decide to have sex as teenagers and I for one want my daughter to be protected in every way possible.
I hope that she would feel comfortable enough to talk to me about beginning birth control, but I am also from planet Earth and realize that most teenagers would rather break a date with Taylor Lautner than talk to their mothers about sex and, if that is the case, I would find solace in the knowledge that a program like this existed where my daughter could properly protect herself with birth control administered by a healthcare professional.
Do we want our children to have sex at an early age, before they are emotionally mature enough to fully understand the act? No, of course not. No one wants that, but unless you are prepared to lock your daughter up in a tower until a time when you deem her mentally competent to handle the sexual advances of men and her own normal and natural urges, perhaps you should be open to the idea that teenagers often diverge from the paths we chart for them.
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